Old Writing

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  • #204645
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    I am finally de-cluttering my house, and realized that I really need to deal with my old writing notebooks. I have dozens notebooks filled with my handwritten writing, dating all the way back to the mid-nineties. Back then, I was about 15. I have started flipping through these, and some are stories, some snippets, some ideas, and some is just me writing garbage about my life, etc. Yep, these need to go, and soon. But, I’m struggling with the best way to go about this. I don’t want to throw out the good along with the bad. But I know for certain that after all these years I am not going to touch most of the content in those writing journals. I am just not the same person as I was at 15, 20, 25, or even 30. Has anyone ever been through this? How did you decide what was worth saving from 20+ years ago? How did you save it? Retype on a computer? Scanning it all in? Just tearing out the pages you want and filing them? Did you ever get rid of an old story or writing notebook and regret it?

    Ashe Elton Parker
    • Topics - 463
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    I regret having lost or thrown out every story or partial story I have ever lost or gotten rid of, mostly because I generally recycle it somehow. What I wrote at 25 or 30 may be technically poor, or just badly handled in the story, but I still love the characters (at least a little) and the basic idea that got me writing the story, so I save everything I can and try to apply it to something else, where I can write it as a better story with better-thought-out plot, characters, and worldbuilding.

    I would suggest reading everything and making a record of the basic ideas and plots and concepts (worlds, cities, etc) that you used in your old writing. You never know what will speak to you now, or what will fit just perfectly in a current project as an addition to the main plot or an important subplot, or what little bit of old worldbuilding will work really well in a current project. You may even discover an old story or idea that you want to rework for a new version.


    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    Member since 1998.
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    Magic Seeker
    • Topics - 89
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    I second Ashe’s comment. There’s often a germ of a great story in a notebook I’m about to throw away. It may only become a subplot in a larger work, or only an interesting vignette, but sometimes it becomes the bedrock of a story.

    But then, I’m a pack rat. Throwing anything out is physically painful. :P

    Happy writing,
    Deb Salisbury
    The Mantua-Maker, Quality Historical Sewing Patterns and Books

    The Art of the Hoop: 1860 - 1869, Dress, Sewing, and Clothing Care Advice

    Dead Wizard's Loot: Wizard Whitewing #1

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    Honestly, I’d scan them all in, the good, the bad, the outdated. You never know when you’ll want to get back in touch with that earlier self, and it’s easy enough to burn the scans to disk so you can access them later. Just include a date with the filename so things don’t get tangled.

    I’m with Ashe. I have regretted everything I’ve lost that I remember, and would probably have found value in the ones I don’t, if only to show how far I’ve come. When you fall into one of those creative doldrums that seem to afflict all of us a time or two, there’s nothing better than reading something from an age ago to remind you of how much better you’ve become…or point to straying from the path if you aren’t noticeably improved so exploring some old habits might get you back there.

    She remakes mechanical devices, and he dreams of becoming a steamship captain in The Steamship Chronicles. Book 1 is free in eBook.

    Wandering Author
    • Topics - 34
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    I agree with everyone else. Nothing should go. You never know what you may find a use for later.

    Personally, I typed it all in when I wanted to reduce bulk. It stirred up lots of things in my mind, spurred my writing on. Your mileage may vary, but at least give that a try.

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